Ellen MacArthur

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By John Davis

Discover more about the inspirational achievements of Ellen MacArthur with these engaging cross-curricular activities. John Davis’s brilliant lesson-plan ideas can be easily adapted and differentiated to suit KS1 or KS2 pupils.

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Ellen MacArthur was born near Matlock in Derbyshire on July 8th, 1976. Her Aunt Thea first introduced her to sailing and by the age of ten Ellen had saved up enough money to buy her own boat, a three-metre long sailing dinghy called Threepenny Bit. She began competition sailing in 1997 and took part in races across the Atlantic and round the world. Retiring from racing in 2009 she currently lives at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. She continues to work for the organisations she founded, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and also devotes her time to economic and environmental issues.



  • Introduce the children to Dame Ellen MacArthur using the information above.
  • Display the timeline of her life , or hand out copies, and discuss these momentous points in Ellen’s career.
  • Introduce some basic maths into the lesson by asking the children to calculate Ellen’s age at different points in the timeline, given that she was born in 1976.
  • Stress Ellen’s age when she completed her first solo sail around the UK. She was just 18 years old.

Ellen’s route

Curriculum links: Geography

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